The best Spanish islands
I am literally in love with Spain, a beautiful country with amazing food and a relaxed way of living.
But this post is not about me, it is instead about the best Spanish Islands based on the type of holiday you are planning to do.
Every Spanish island tends to cater to different kinds of travellers, and it can be confusing.
I have worked so much on this guide because I really wanted to clearly answer one of the most common questions I get about Spain: what is the best Spanish island for xyz?
And if you do not find the answer, just leave a message below and I will reply in no time.
Without further ado, let’s get into it.
You can read also
- Ibiza Travel Guide
- Mallorca Travel Guide
- Menorca Travel Guide
- Best Canary Islands to visit
- Tenerife Travel Guide
The Best Islands in Spain to visit – in a nutshell
Here below a quick list of the most common answers and questions.
However, keep reading for more information about different archipelagos. You can find also a link to the travel guide for that particular island.
- Most famous archipelagos: Balearic Islands, Canary Islands and Galician Islands
- Best Spanish islands for families: Menorca and Grand Canaria are both great. Arosa is a good alternative, however more difficult to reach
- Best Spanish islands for holidays: if you are after a holiday package then the Canary Islands offer more choice at a better price
- Best Spanish islands for couples: Formentera for the great beaches and very relaxed vibe, Lanzarote for being so spectacular and romantic
- Best Spanish islands for honeymoon: Ibiza offers the widest choice in accommodation, with a few specialized in honeymoons, for a romantic and secluded day followed by a crazy night, if you want. Lanzarote is another option for its dramatic landscape.
- Best Spanish islands for nightlife and party: Ibiza is hands down the place to be. Mallorca is also a good alternative, cheaper but without the big names disco. Tenerife is the alternative in the Canary Islands
- Best Spanish islands for young couples and singles: based on your budget, you have two options: Ibiza (more trendy) or Mallorca (less expensive). Lanzarote is ideal in the Canary Islands
- Best Spanish islands for luxury: you can find expensive places everywhere, however, Ibiza is a step ahead in providing the luxurious factor. Keep in mind that celebrities are commonly spotted in Ibiza. Who would miss the best DJs in the world?
- Best Spanish islands for beaches: Formentera and Lanzarote. Tenerife has also some spectacular beaches, both white and black
- Best Spanish islands for quiet time: Formentera, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote. Ons and Cíes in the Galician Archipelago are great alternatives but much more difficult to reach them
- Best Spanish islands for cycling: Mallorca and Lanzarote
- Best Spanish islands for hiking: Lanzarote and Mallorca . The Cíes Islands are also spectacular, and if you are an outdoor person think about camping there, a unique experience.
- Best Spanish islands for surfing: Fuerteventura and Lanzarote
- Best Spanish island for windsurfing and kitesurfing: Fuerteventura
- Best Spanish island without a car: Mallorca is probably one of the easiest to go around, however, most of the Canary and Balearic Island have a good transportation system
- Best time to visit the Spanish Islands: you always find a Spanish island with nice weather, doesn’t matter which month :). Read more below on my island suggestions based on the month of your trip.
The Spanish Islands list
The Spanish Islands list is made of three distinct archipelagos: the Balearic, the Canary and the Galician.
The Galician islands are the only ones without an international airport. You will have to fly instead to Vigo or Santiago de Compostela and from there you need to rent a car.
The Canary and Balearic Islands are instead well connected, also with low-cost airlines.
Overall you will find accommodations for any budget, up to a luxurious stay.
Camping sites are available in the remote Galician Islands, a true adventure for nature lovers.
Spanish islands in the Mediterranean – Balearic Islands
The Spanish islands in the Mediterranean sea are off the east coast of the country.
The Balearic Islands are very popular with tourism from anywhere in the world, especially from Germany and the UK
The most popular island is Ibiza, especially for its worldwide famous nightlife.
Mallorca and Menorca are also famous destinations and they both offer a good mix of beach time and great nightlife.
Formentera is the quietest island of all with possibly the most amazing beaches in the Balearic Archipelago.
They all have international airports, very well connected to most cities in Europe, except Formentera which is connected by ferry to Ibiza
If you are after a crazy holiday with plenty of nightlife then Ibiza is the place to be.
This is the party island of the Mediterranean and possibly of the world.
Here you will find the most famous clubs like Bora Bora, Space, Ushuaia, or DC10 to name a few.
And let’s not forget the Café del Mar, a must-visit at sunset time for cocktails and chill-out music
Playa d’en Bossa and San Antonio are the major towns for nightlife, where the most famous DJs perform through the night.
If you do not see yourself sharing your time with the young crowd that hang out in disco clubs then book your stay in the Old Town, a more arty and charming village, perfect for more mature visitors that prefer to avoid the loud part of the nightlife.
The great thing about Ibiza is that you can also find quieter and more bohemian places.
The rule of thumb is that the norther you go the more relaxed the life and vibe become.
You should check out this Full Guide on Ibiza that I wrote with all the info about the best areas to stay based on your type of holiday
This is the biggest island in the Balearic Archipelago and probably the one that offers more choice.
You can find, in equal measure, villages, towns and areas for any type of holiday you have in mind.
If you are after some crazy nightlife, possibly on a budget, then your destinations are Playa de Palma (popular with Germans) and Magaluf (popular with British).
Both towns may have not the world-famous clubs as in Ibiza, however, you will find plenty of bars and small clubs to spend the whole night till the early morning.
The rest of the island is instead much quieter.
Actually, it would be a great idea to rent a car to explore Mallorca and the many beaches and hidden corners it offers.
There are romantic towns as Port de Soller that are fantastic places for a couples’ getaway.
There are amazing shallow beaches and villages that are more popular for a family trip as Santa Ponsa and Port of Pollensa.
Mallorca is also very famous for walking, hiking and cycling (pro team actually go there for training in the off-season).
You can really find all you need and want.
You should check out this Full Guide on Mallorca that I wrote with all the info about the best areas to stay based on your type of holiday
Read Reference Guide to Mallorca
Menorca is a much quieter island if compared to Mallorca and even more to Ibiza.
It’s a destination for anyone looking for a quiet time, a relaxed vibe, nice beaches and beautiful sunsets.
You can find some nightlife, mostly in Ciutadella, but really it should not be the main reason to visit the island.
Menorca is very popular with families, with couples and a more mature traveller looking for a nice restaurant and a relaxed after-dinner drink.
Son Bou and Punta Prima are popular with families because of their shallow beaches and kids facilities.
If you are travelling with your partner and you are looking for a romantic place then Cala Galdana and Binibecca are both great options.
And for hardcore trekking, you should plan a walk along the Camí de Cavalls, a 186km ancient walking route built originally in the 15th century.
You should check out this Full Guide on Menorca that I wrote with all the info about the best areas to stay based on your type of holiday
Read Reference Guide to Menorca
This is the smallest and quietest island of the Balearic Archipelago.
It is also the only island that you cannot reach with a direct flight. There is no airport.
You will have instead to fly to Ibiza, take a bus to the pier and get a ferry there to Formentera. Alternatively, check this package that organises all you need for you.
This is a very quiet island without almost any sign of nightlife (there is only a small club).
Formentera is very popular for the amazing beaches and for the charming villages and towns.
Tourism has had less of an impact as in the other Balearic Islands.
You will experience mostly small houses, some of them with a unique Balearic design.
You can also decide to visit Formentera with a day-trip from Ibiza, Simply take a fast ferry (see tickets prices here) and enjoy your day.
Here is an important thing, if you plan to stay in Formentera, book well in advance, especially in July and August, because there are not as many Hotels and AirBnb.
You should check out this Full Guide on Formentera that I wrote with all the info about the best areas to stay based on your type of holiday
Read Reference Guide to Formentera
Spanish islands off the coast of Africa – Canary Islands
The Spanish islands off the coast of Africa are part of the Canary Archipelago. They are located 2,000km south of the capital Madrid and just 100km off the Moroccan coast.
They are part of Spain since the 15th century when Jean de Béthencourt colonized the area.
Today these islands have more of a European and Spanish feel than any Guanches (original inhabitants) vibe.
In saying that, there are still a few festivals in Gran Canaria that celebrates the Guanches history and people as La Fiesta del Charco.
There are 8 main islands and a few much smaller rock formations and islets.
Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, are the most famous destinations for tourism.
They all have an international airport and they are easily reachable also with low-cost airlines.
The other four less popular islands, as beautiful in their own way, are La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro and La Graciosa.
This is the biggest of all the Canary Islands with 2 international airports, of which the most popular one is in the south.
Tenerife can be seen as almost divided into two areas, the south and the north.
In the south, you will find arguably the best beaches on the island, with white sand in the centre-east coast and blackish in the west.
The weather tends to be always sunny with some rain, mostly in the late hours of the day, during the winter season.
In this part of Tenerife, you will find towns that work better for families, others for couples and then the best nightlife of the island in Playa de Las America.
In the north, you will find more of a real “Spanish” charm, where you can have more of a local experience in some characteristic villages and towns.
It tends to be a bit cooler, which may work better for people that suffer the over 30C degrees of the south in summer.
However, the beaches are not as spectacular and the weather in winter is a bit cold and rainy.
You should check out this Full Guide on Tenerife that I wrote with all the info about the best areas to stay based on your type of holiday and when to visit the island
Read Reference Guide to Tenerife
Gran Canaria is a much quieter place than Tenerife, with just a few towns and resorts areas, mostly in the south of the island.
It is quite popular with families, mostly because of the relaxed vibe and the fantastic beaches in the south, shallow and safe.
It does offer some nightlife in Playa del Inglés, however, it’s definitely not the main reason to visit Gran Canaria.
Arguineguin and Puerto Rico are great family destinations with plenty of activities for kids of any age.
Puerto de Mogan, ofter described as “Little Venice”, is a beautiful and romantic town which is perfect if you are travelling with your partner.
You should check out this Full Guide on Gran Canaria that I wrote with all the info about the best areas to stay based on your type of holiday and when to visit the island
Read Reference Guide to Gran Canaria
I have a personal connection to this island and that’s because of the available water sports, namely windsurfing and surfing.
It is quite a dry island with a few towns and villages, mostly on the east coast, of which Puerto del Rosario is the capital.
Puerto has more of a city feel, however, it’s a great spot to stay in case you want to visit the whole island with public transportation. You will be in the centre of a well run public transportation system.
The most popular place to stay for travellers is Corralejo.
It has plenty of bars and restaurants, nightlife, nice beaches, a good surf break and fantastic windsurfing (when in season)
Costa Calma is one of the most popular windsurfing and kitesurfing destination in the world between July and August with a PWA Windsurf World Cup in Sotavento.
It’s a great island for adrenaline seekers and, generally speaking, water sports.
In saying that, there are also towns that work great for families with kids, repaired from the wind and the waves.
You should check out this Full Guide on Fuerteventura that I wrote with all the info about the best areas to stay based on your type of holiday and when to visit the island
Read Reference Guide to Fuerteventura
This is probably the most spectacular of the Canary Islands with over 300 volcanoes, a monotone lava landscape and amazing beaches.
Lanzarote offer also great surfing areas as Orzola and La Santa.
It is a fantastic destination for anyone looking not only for great beaches but also for great walking and hikes in a lunar panorama, between the many calderas of the Los Volcanes Natural Park.
Cycling is also a popular activity. The town of Costa Teguise is a great base with also a fantastic beach with shallow water and well repaired from the waves, an ideal spot for families.
You should check out this Full Guide on Lanzarote that I wrote with all the info about the best areas to stay based on your type of holiday and when to visit the island
Read Reference Guide to Lanzarote
Islands off the coast of Spain and Portugal – Galician Islands
These are the islands off the West Coast of Spain, more precisely in the beautiful Galicia region, close to Portugal.
They are all very quiet and relaxing.
The two closest international airports are in Vigo and Santiago de Compostela (well served also by low-cost airlines)
Arosa Island is the most popular one, and the only one reachable from the mainland with a long bridge.
There are a few restaurants and cafes but no nightlife, for that you would need to go to Pontevedra.
Ons Island is reachable by ferry only in summer and the Cíes Islands only by private boat.
The most popular in the Galicia region of Spain.
There are two main reasons: it’s absolutely gorgeous and it’s well connected with a long bridge to the mainland.
It’s almost an elevated road that resembles the Florida Keys.
The island has a population of around 5,000 people mostly staying in the north where you will find the main town and the Marina.
Why should you visit Arosa Island?
For the beautiful nature and the amazing beaches is the short answer.
Speaking of beaches, here below I have shortlisted 3 amazing ones:
- Praia Area da Secada, in the northernmost point
- Praia do Vao, just off the bridge
- Playa de A Lameira, in the southernmost point
There is not much nightlife around, there are however some nice restaurants and bars for a few drinks and tapas.
You can visit Arosa island for a day trip, if you are already in Galicia, or for a longer stay.
In this case, I would suggest to check out this Apartment with a view in the main town.
It’s a spacious and modern unit with undisrupted view of the sea (see photos here)
Ons is a very small island, just 6km long that can be explored as a day-trip or for a longer stay.
It’s a great destination if you are into nature, walks and cycling.
It has also some marvellous beaches and coves that you will share with a small number of people. A few of them are really secluded
There are 3 popular organised trekking paths through Ons, that go from 30 minutes to 2 hours.
You will be able to see the most iconic and historical sites as well as immerse in the characteristic wildlife of the island
Ons is connected to the mainland by ferry only from June to September (timetable and tickets on this website)
You can even decide to spend one or more nights on the island.
In this case, you can book at the local campsite, a very well organised one, by the way, or get a room at the newly renovated Alojamientos Turísticos.
There are a few restaurants, next to the pier and the nearby main beach.
Chiringo Area dos Cans is a popular spot for cocktails.
This is an archipelago made of 3 islands.
The first two, Illa de Monteagudo and Illa Do Faro are interconnected by a walking path or alternatively by the long beach Praia de Rodas.
This is a famous spot for sunbathing and swimming. The contrast between the turquoise sea and the white sand is absolutely stunning.
The water may be a bit cold, but it’s definitely worth a dive.
The other island in the Cíes Archipelago is Illa de San Martiño, accessible only with a private boat.
It’s a very quiet place with the main beach being well repaired and perfect for mooring.
There are no hotels or resorts on these 3 islands.
There is however a camping site in Illa Do Faro which is surprisingly very well organised, considering the remoteness of the island. They even have warm water for the shower.
There are a bunch of restaurants of which Serafin is probably the best to try out. You can even have breakfast at a moderate price.
Illa de San Martiño does not have any facilities, it is instead a very wild place to visit, perfect for walks and hikes, besides the beach
Best time to visit the Spanish Islands
The best time to visit the Spanish Islands is literally every month of the year.
Being the Canary Islands on the Tropic of Cancer line means that they have a consistent weather year-round, with some small changes between winter and summer
The Balearic Islands are instead influenced by the temperate Mediterranean weather, with sunny and warm summers and coldish winter
The Galician Islands are the ones with more inconsistent weather, however, July and August are typically sunny and warm
Best Spanish islands in November, December, January, February, March and April
This is a time of the year when the European continent tends to be cold everywhere you go.
Ibiza and Mallorca are the only 2 islands with some local life. Ibiza becomes more lively during the Christmas and New Year school holiday with parties in the most important Disco Club.
Tenerife and Gran Canaria, have the best weather. Stay on the south coast for mostly sunny days and some rain in the latter part of the day.
The temperature is usually in the 20-25C range, with much cooler nights.
This is called the Scandinavian season, popular with people from North Europe
Best Spanish islands in May, June, September and October
These are great months in all of the Canary Islands. Sunny, warm, not as popular with tourism and overall cheaper.
In May the Balearic Islands start the tourist season. You can get great discounts, however, the weather can be a bit unpredictable.
You will see the change for the best towards of the month and into the start of June.
September is a great month, with still nice weather and warm water. Things are more relaxed
October is very similar to May, however, the sea will be much warmer.
Best Spanish islands in July, August
This is the peak season, does not matter where you go.
The weather can be quite hot, over 30C degrees, in the Canary Islands (stay in the north coasts for the cooler breeze) as well as in the Balearic, especially in August.
It’s the most expensive time of the year for the accommodations. Restaurants and any public place tend to be also very busy.
Book your hotel or apartment well in advance, the choice is very limited, especially in small islands as Formentera or Arosa.
This is also the wind season in the Canary Islands, especially in Fuerteventura and Lanzarote, great for windsurfing and kitesurfing, less so if travelling with kids.
It’s the best time to visit the Galician Islands, with more consistently sunny weather.
Go back using the below menu
- 1 The Best Islands in Spain to visit – in a nutshell
- 2 The Spanish Islands list
- 2.1 Spanish islands in the Mediterranean – Balearic Islands
- 2.2 Spanish islands off the coast of Africa – Canary Islands
- 2.3 Islands off the coast of Spain and Portugal – Galician Islands
- 3 Best time to visit the Spanish Islands